Joseph M. Metzger, PhD

Professor, Department Head and Chair, Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology (IBP)

Joseph M. Metzger

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-625-8296

Fax 612-625-5149

Office Address:
6-125A Jackson Hall
321 Church Street S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Mailing Address:
321 Church Street S.E.
6-125 Jackson Hall
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Fellowship, University of Wisconsin (Post Doctoral Studies), 1991

Doctoral Degree, Marquette University (Biology/Physiology), 1985

Masters Degree, Ball State University (Biology and Exercise Physiology), 1982

Bachelors Degree, St. John's University (Natural Science), 1980


Joseph M. Metzger is Professor and Chair of Integrative Biology and Physiology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Medicine. He is a member of The Lillehei Heart Institute and holds the Maurice B. Visscher Endowed Chair in Physiology.

Metzger received a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science from Saint John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota (1980), a Master’s degree in Biology and Exercise Physiology from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana (1982), a Ph.D. degree in Biology/Physiology under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Fitts from Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1985), and performed post doctoral studies with Dr. Richard Moss at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (1991). His lab created a cardiac muscle-cell system that allows the transfer of genes into heart cells in order to assess the impact of those genes on the production of force and motion, the major function of cardiac muscle cells. The approach has the advantage of shedding light on the primary role of a normal or mutated gene in an otherwise normal muscle cell.

Developing the technique, however, was a considerable task as the technology to transfer genes and culture differentiated muscle cells was largely unproven at the time. Metzger’s findings have been published in top peer journals including Nature, Science, Nature Medicine, the Journal of Clinical Investigation, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Heart Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Federation to Eradicate Duchenne, and has opened the path to treatment for a variety of heart diseases.

Awards & Recognition

  • Editorial Board, Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research, 2010
  • Robert P. Wade Lectureship University of Maryland; 2009, John Coulter Lectureship University of Alberta, 2009
  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Board Phrixus Pharmaceutical Incorporated, 2007
  • Editorial board, American Journal of Physiology/Heart and Circulation, 2005-2012
  • Faculty Recognition Award, University of Michigan, 2002
  • Michigan Medical School Teaching Recognition; Full member, NIH Cardiovascular A (CVA) Study Section (1999-2003), 2000 & 2003
  • Michigan Medical Student Award for Teaching Excellence, 1999
  • Elizabeth A. Crosby Medical School Teaching Award, 1999
  • Finalist, Kaiser-Permanente Award for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching, 1999/2001/2002
  • American Heart Association Cardiovascular Research Prize Finalist, 1998
  • Edgar D. Prince Research Award, 1996
  • Council on Circulation Research Award Finalist, 1996
  • Associate Editor: Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 1995
  • Established Investigator, American Heart Association, 1994
  • Young Investigator Award, American Heart Association, Asilomar Conference, 1993
  • Boots Pharmaceutical Heart Failure Research Prize Finalist, 1993
  • Young Investigator Award, American Heart Association Snowbird Conference, 1992
  • Whitaker Foundation Biomedical Research Award, 1991
  • NIH National Research Service Award, 1986
  • Pharmacia Award for Exceptional Achievement in Biological Research by a Graduate Student, 1985
  • NCAA Track and Field All-American; 1984, Marquette University Research Fellowship, 1979
  • Saint John’s University Academic Scholarship, 1976


Research Summary/Interests

Integrative systems biology of cardiovascular function; Cardiac gene therapy; Transgenic models of heart disease; Molecular mechanisms of sarcomere function; Human iPS cell cardiac myocytes


  • Wang W, Barnabei BS, Asp M, Heinis F, Arden E, Davis J, Braunlin E, Li Q, Davis J, Potter JD, and Metzger JM. Noncanonical EF-hand Motif Strategically Delays Ca2+ Buffering to Enhance Cardiac Performance. Nature Medicine. In Press. 2013.
  • Palpant NJ, Houang EM, Sham YY, Metzger JM. pH-Responsive Titratable Inotropic Performance of Histidine-Modified Cardiac Troponin I. Biophysical Journal. Apr 4;102(7):1570-9, PMID:22500757, 2012.
  • Townsend D, Yasuda S., Elizabeth McNally E, Metzger JM. Distinct pathophysiological mechanisms of cardiomyopathy in hearts lacking dystrophin or the sarcoglycan complex. The FASEB Journal. Sep;25(9):3106-14. PMID: 21665956 2011.
  • Townsend D, Turner I,Yasuda S, Martindale J, Shillingford M, Kornegay JN and Metzger JM. Severe cardiac injury and ventricular dilatation in dystrophic dogs prevented by chronic administration of membrane sealants. Journal of Clinical Investigation. 120(4):1140–1150. doi:10.1172/JCI41329, 2010.
  • Herron TJ, Devaney E, Turner I, Mundada L,Westfall MV, Day S, Guerrero-Serna G, Arden E, Metzger JM. Ca2+-independent Positive Inotropy by Cardiac Myosin Heavy Chain. The FASEB Journal. Feb;24(2):415-24. Epub 2009 Oct 2.PMID: 19801488, 2009.
  • Day, S.M., M.V. Westfall, E.V. Fomicheva, N. La Cross, S. Yasuda, K. Hoyer, J.S. Ingwall, Metzger JM. Histidine Button Engineered into Cardiac Troponin I Protects the Heart from Ischemic Contractile Failure. Nature Medicine. Feb;12(2):181-9, 2006.
  • Yasuda S, Townsend D, Michele, D, Favre E, Day S, and Metzger JM. Dystrophic heart failure blocked by membrane sealant poloxamer. Nature. 18:1025-9. 2005.

PUBMED Link to Publications